In Remember The Milk, tags save keystrokes. For me, that’s the bottom line. I’ve been using them for less than two years, but in a way, I’ve been using them for 20 years.

This year, 2021, marks 20 years of me organizing digitally. With more and more information , especially email, coming my way digitally, it just made sense to let digital things stay digital.

I realized early about the power of “search.” No more flipping pages in a paper planner to find an entry. Enter a word or phrase in the search window and let the software find it.

My system is date-based, meaning every task gets a due date and that date is what puts certain tasks in front of me today and other tasks in front of me tomorrow. But life doesn’t always happen according to the list. The phone rings and it’s “Joe.” How quickly can you put your hands on everything you need to talk to Joe about?

You’re stuck in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. You could make some phone calls. How quickly can you put your hands on a list of the phone calls you need to make? How quickly can you access a list of all the online articles you wanted to read?

For me, putting keywords in the task line had always been the answer. By wording tasks “Call Joe” or “Talk to Joe,” I could put “Joe” in the search window of the task manager and let the software find the tasks. It worked like a charm.

Another one of my favorites has always been “ETR,” my shorthand for “expect to receive.” How do you keep up with all the things others owe you? Create a task and put those three letters in the task line. Searching for “ETR” returns a list of everything everyone owes you along with the date you decided you would be checking up on them anyway.

So Why Use Tags Then?

Tags take fewer keystrokes

My wife’s name is “Davonia.” When I enter a task that involves her, it takes 7 keystrokes. Now I have a #davonia tag. In Remember the Milk, as soon as I key the hashtag and the letter “D,” Remember The Milk autocompletes the rest. I hit Enter to accept.

One of the roles I have in life is that of Historian for the Alabama Music Educators Association. When I have a task related to that role, entering #a causes Remember The Milk to autocomplete #amea_historian. Tagging saves quite a few keystrokes over entering the entire keyword.

Tags prevent typos

Searching for a keyword does no good if the word is misspelled. Instead of entering the entire keyword by hand, enter the hashtag and first letter. You’re done.

Tags can be assigned or changed in mass in Remember The Milk

During the day. I throw a number of tasks at Remember The Milk, and they all wind up in the inbox. Many need to have a tag assigned. Maybe I added 5 YouTube videos to watch. I will tag them #watch so that while I am on hold on the phone or working through low-priority email, I can have one of those videos going.

Instead of entering Watch as a keyword in each task, I handle the job in mass. I place a checkmark beside each task, hit the letter “S” (the keyboard shortcut to add a tag) and hit the letter “W.” Remember The Milk autocompletes and tags every checked task with that tag…#watch.

What Tags Do You Need in Remember The Milk?

What are the activities in your life where you want to batch tasks? Here are the tags I use. As you see, I don’t use that many:

  • amea_historian Any task involved with my role as Historian for the Alabama Music Educators Association gets this tag. One click finds all those tasks.
  • constant_contact Each week, I send an email to those who have subscribed to my list. Constant Contact is the service that handles it. (Are you on my email list? If not, you can join now.) Every time I think of something to add, I create a task for that idea, date it for the day I want to compose the email, and tag it. One click finds all the tasks.
  • course_creation When I have ideas to include in an upcoming course or find “how-to” information related to a course I am building, I use this tag. One click puts all the related information at my fingertips.
  • davonia Everything I need to talk to my wife about gets this tag. When we are together, we can go through a number of items in one sitting.
  • etr These three letters stand for “expect to receive.” I can quickly see a list of everything everybody owes me.
  • listen When I run across a podcast episode or any other audio I want to review later, I use this tag. I can always have audio going on in the background as I work on some other project.
  • mark_records This tag is great for “ad hoc” purposes. Suppose I have several tasks I want to “flag.” I apply this tag. One click finds them all. When the need is no longer there, I click that tag once again, put a check in the box at the top of the list (which selects them all), hit the “s” key, and remove that tag in mass.
  • marketing All marketing activities related to my business get this tag.
  • phone Phone calls to make get this tag.
  • qelpp This project is the “ELPP.” It’s an acronym that would not mean anything to you. But why the “q”? I will explain in a moment.
  • read This tag is assigned to all the articles I wish to read later. The title of the article and the URL are also part of the task.
  • social_media Posts I am planning, strategies I am brainstorming, or anything else related to social media get this tag.
  • trip Errands I need to run get this tag. Why do I call it “trip” instead of “errands”? I explain in a moment.
  • watch This tag is for YouTube videos or any other visual media.
  • xtra_time What tasks do I have that I could do while watching TV or during waiting time? Those tasks get this tag.
  • zstride The project is called “Stride.” I will explain about the “z”.

The tags you need will be different from what I have. Try to keep the list fairly small.

Personal Strategy to Minimize Keystrokes

Look at my list of tags. For the most part, only one tag starts with any given letter of the alphabet. Only one tag starts with the letter “a.” I have only one starting with “d,” one starting with “e,” etc. When I hit the hashtag symbol and that one letter, the rest of the tag appears. That’s why I use the tag phone instead of using “calls.” I already had a couple of “c” tags but no “p” tags.

I needed a tag for the “ELPP” project, but I already a very important tag, #etr, that started with “e.” So, I just started the tag with a different letter. I figured I would never have a tag starting with the letter “q.” So #qelpp gives me a workaround. That’s why the tag “Stride” is #zstride. “S” was already taken with #social_media but “z” was still available.

The video will demonstrate how easy tags are to apply as you enter the task name. In the next post, we’ll examine Smart Lists and look at some easy, practical examples for using them. Did you visit the content related to organizing your tasks or the content about planning tomorrow today? Tasks will play a big part in both of those concepts.